I recently read Denise Fenzi’s new blog “I Have an Old Dog” and it struck a chord with me.  Judd is about 9 years old now.  Not “OLD” but he’s starting to slow down a little and he’s getting gray.  When did this happen?  I look back at old pictures of him and I see a sleek, powerhouse dog, striding forward and driving into odor.  When did he turn into a methodical and careful searcher?  The other day at class he actually got tired.  This was a new phenomenon for me to witness and I admit very much to being struck by sadness.  I love this dog with all of my heart.  He has brought me happiness and opportunity.  Together we learned this sport and went from that Fall day where he passed all 3 Odor Recognition Tests (ORT’s) with flying colors in Stanhope NJ to being one of the first four dogs ever to title in the Summit League.  He’s traveled the country and has competed on both coasts…  we have also competed in Canada.  Everywhere we go, memories are made and I am struck by the fortune that’s I’ve had to cross paths with him.  Not bad for a Death Row Rescue!  Gassing shelter to on top of the Nosework world.  Judd honey, you amaze the world!

Judd Summit Title

Judd earning one of the first four ever Summit titles to be awarded!

Nosework for Retirement

All too often I hear people wanting to “save Nosework for retirement”.  That sentiment actually makes me sad.  Why?  …because of the beauty and emotion that I witness every time I search with Judd.  It’s like saying “when I retire I will _______” (you fill in the blank).  What if retirement is short and non-existent?  Although we don’t like to think about it, we may not make it that long!  My dad was only 51 when he passed.  I never asked him but I’m sure like most people, he had a bucket list that was waiting for retirement.  Don’t defer your dog’s bucket list!  Rest assured scenting is on there!  The olfactory lobe is 12.5% of your dog’s brain…  don’t defer this pleasure!

Will I retire him soon?  I don’t know.  He’s still wonderfully competitive.  Just this Spring he came in 3rd Overall at the Turner Trials in Pasadena, CA where he was in the top three in 2 out of the 3 days of competition.  The following weekend he was 3rd Overall at his last and final Elite trial at Lake View Terrace coming in behind two world class dogs.  Then he was one of only 4 dogs to title in the first ever Summit League trial. Yes…  he still has it.  Summit Trials are a different beast though. They require a lot of physical stamina with not a lot of reward (fewer hides).  There is still AKC where he is competing at the Master Level.  This Old Dog still has a lot of tricks left in him!

The Best Thing I Ever Did

Nosework is by far the best thing that I ever started with Judd.  He’s had a long and illustrious career…  and it’s not over yet.  In the process he has transformed and we have grown together in terms of our relationship and teamwork.  When I started the sport with him, I had no idea about the ride that he would take me on…  the friends I would make and the world that he would allow me into.  I don’t know what we’d be doing now without Nosework but I can safely say that my life would be very different.  I’m grateful for this sport.

It’s Easy to Start

The great thing about this sport is that you can learn it in the privacy of your home with very little equipment.  I start dogs using metal switch boxes.  I don’t start them on searching for food first.  Although all methods work, I find that the method being taught by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy to be easy and very effective very quickly.  I started all four of my dogs using this method.  There is Sample Lecture on the FDSA page that can get you started!  So training 5 to 10 minutes a day can open your dog up to a whole new sport!  In fact, classes begin August 1.  I’m teaching this term and I’d love to have you join us!  Cost starts at just $65 for 6 weeks.

Something for Every Dog

The great thing about this sport is that there is something for every dog.  It brings the timid dogs out of their shells; it gives the older dogs stimulation; it gives the young dogs an outlet; and it gives the reactive dogs a sport where they are welcomed.  It’s quite perfect really.  I’m reminded of this constantly…  Why lacks confidence.  Joey is a reactive older dog.  Judd is fragile.  Brava needs a job…  this sport was meant for all of them.

Louisville Ribbon Picture

The crew with their spoils from the Greater Louisville Dog Training Club AKC Scent Work trial (L to R: Joey, Why, Judd, Brava)


In the End

In the end, we only have our dogs for a brief moment in time.  It’s up to us to make the most of their short lives and spend as much quality time as we can with them.  Whether it’s Nosework or another sport, you’ll find that doing something with your dog will bring your relationship to levels you’ve never imagined.

Happy Sniffing!!